170th Anniversary of Antoni Gaudí, an Icon of Modernist Architecture in Barcelona
The 25th of June 2022, marked 170 years since the birth of Antoni Gaudí, the greatest representative of Catalan Modernism, and we celebrate this day by sharing the story of his life and remembering his work.
Gaudí was born in 1852, in Reus, Tarragona, then the second most important city in Catalonia, spending much of his childhood in the province’s countryside. The geology of the site, its flora and fauna, exerted a great influence on his later architectural ideas. His father’s job, as a coppersmith, also had a significant influence on his personality in formal and constructive terms: he constantly saw him moulding and bending copper plates with his hammer to create vessels in which he would later distil spirits.
From primary school, Gaudí showed special interest and skill in subjects such as drawing, geometry and arithmetic, so it was not surprising that he ended up moving to Barcelona to study architecture. While he was studying, he worked as an assistant to notable architects of the time and in craftsmen’s workshops, where he got his first taste of how to work with materials such as wood, ceramics, glass and stone.
In 1878 he qualified as an architect and from then on he began his uninterrupted professional career until the day of his death in 1926 when he was run over by a tram.
Gaudí is an international figure in architecture, there is no doubt about that. But his story was not always like that. For many years his projects were generally misunderstood, his own fellow citizens did not understand the originality and exceptionality of his work, his proposals were considered arbitrary and a waste of forms.
It was not until the mid-twentieth century that many scholars began to visit the Catalan capital to see this work, which was out of the ordinary, and an international current of interest in Gaudí began. Salvador Dalí was the first voice of modernity to raise his voice for the architect, followed by Le Corbusier, Josep-Lluís Sert and many other important figures in the discipline.
“Originality consists of a return to the origin: originality is that which returns to the simplicity of the first solutions”- Antoni Gaudí
It cannot be denied that the originality of his work surpassed that of his contemporaries in Catalan modernism. The following are some of his most important projects and articles.
Known as the most representative work of Catalan Art Nouveau (modernism) and the architect’s most important work, the Expiatory Temple of the Sagrada Familia, a large Catholic basilica, is located in Barcelona, Spain. Construction began in 1882 and is still underway.
With its undulating façade and surrealist sculptural roof, Casa Milà looks more organic than artificial, as if it were carved directly from the ground. Located in the centre of Barcelona, and better known as La Pedrera, the building, like Casa Battló and Parc Güell, was inspired by the modernista movement, Spain’s Art Nouveau style.
Casa Battló was built between 1904 and 1906. All the architecture of this work is based on animal forms, especially the ocean, through a work with curves, suggestions to the skeleton and bright colours, which together make up a masterpiece in Barcelona.
Parc Güell is a large park designed by the architect Antoni Gaudí at the request of Count Eusebi Güell, who wanted to build a stylish park for the aristocrats of Barcelona. In this park, Gaudí blends his extravagant style with nature to come up with structures that rise from the ground like trees, but are identifiable as built elements.
Colònia Güell was a workers’ colony located in Santa Coloma de Cervelló, now a town of about 7,000 inhabitants, 20 kilometres from Barcelona. The area was an industrial suburb that grew rapidly in the late 19th century.